Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VirtualBox vs. Virtual PC as a host for Ubuntu

Having worked with Ubuntu on Virtual PC for a little while I gave it a test inside a VirtualBox. A waaaaaaay better. Squeezing a Linux to run in a Windows virtualization host designed to only accept Windows guests might have been fun in and of itself, but using it there is not necessarily the experience you would enjoy.

VirtualBox over Virtual PC as a host for Ubuntu:
  • No hassle installation. Just point the CD drive to the Ubuntu installation ISO and enjoy the ride. No tweaking with the VGA loading modes and GRUB.
  • Out of the box networking with the host. No need to manually install loopback adapters as it comes with a network "device" to support it
  • No-capture mouse integration. Virtual PC has a hot key to release a mouse pointer to the host but it conflicts with my Intel video. When I do Ctrl+Alt+Left my screen turns 90 degree. Not fun. VirtualBox with guest additions captures your mouse when it's inside a guest OS window and releases it once you past the window's border. Natural. The only thing that I liked better about VirtualPC here is that it seems to propagate Alt+Tab to the host. So basically when you're in a guest Ubuntu window pressing Alt+Tab brings up the familiar "where to" selector. In VirtualBox you have to start with the "host" key.
  • Visually VirtualBox has a nicer response from the Ubuntu guest GUI compared to Virtual PC. At least no hiccups. Ubuntu in Virtual PC ran ok until I hooked it up with the host over a loopback adapter. That was when it became noticeably slow.
  • Audio support. I don't need it in a guest system. I actually don't need a desktop Ubuntu but it was nice to hear what Ubuntu plays when it boots up :)

There's got to be more. Unlike Virtual PC VirtualBox officially supports Ubuntu and many other guest OSes.

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